NEW YORK (Apr. 9)
Simon Wiesenthal called on the government of Yugoslavia to release all documents it has on the war-time activities of Austrian Presidential candidate Kurt Waldheim.
The Vienna-based Nazi hunter told reporters at a jammed news conference here Wednesday that the file on Waldheim released by the United Nations to the governments of Israel and Austria earlier in the day was not complete.
He pointed out that the War Crimes Commission file on Waldheim would only include information through December, 1947, when the commission was dissolved. But he noted that the Yugoslavs would have additional information since he was wanted by that government as a war criminal.
Wiesenthal’s news conference followed a 40 minute meeting he had with UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar, described as “substantive” by Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Los Angeles-based Wiesenthal Center.
Hier, who attended the meeting between Wiesenthal and the UN official, said they discussed the possibility of making public all the files on some 40,000 persons in the UN archives of the War Crimes Commission, and the need for the Yugoslavs to open their files on Waldheim.
The Yugoslav State War Crimes Commission, according to Yugoslav press reports, condemned Waldheim, the former UN Secretary General from 1972-1981, as a wanted war criminal and called his extradition “mandatory.”
Last months, the World Jewish Congress produced a page from the United States Army’s “Combined Registry of War Criminals and Security Suspects” (Crowcass)” which reported that Waldheim was being sought by Yugoslavia on suspicion of complicity in what the registry listed as “murder.”
WIESENTHAL CAUTIOUS IN STATEMENTS ABOUT WALDHEIM
But despite the evidence and allegations linking Waldheim to Nazi atrocities, including the deportation of thousands of Greek Jews from Salonika, Wiesenthal remained cautious in his statements about the former UN official.
He appeared to reserve judgment on Waldheim, saying in response to a question that he needed to review all the documents, including files from Yugoslavia. Asked whether in view of the allegations Waldheim should back out of his Presidential campaign, he said this was a matter for Waldheim to decide.
But he stressed that the Austrian people should be made aware before the elections on May 4 of Waldheim’s past war-time activities. “It seems to me that on the basis of my experience, that for a matter of justice and historic truth the Yugoslavs must send to Austria the files to give the people a full picture,” he said.
Wiesenthal also expressed reservations about labeling someone a war criminal before all the evidence has been reviewed. “To call someone a war criminal,” he said, “they must have very hard evidence.” Asked by a reporter whether that evidence was present in the case of Waldheim, Wiesenthal said, “I don’t know,” adding that the answer can only come from Yugoslavia.